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that is good for nothing else, and findeth himself in seeking him that is infinitely above himself; Luke xiv. 31–33. Phil. ii. 4. 21.
2. And the weak Christian hath attained to so much self-denial, that self is not predominant in him against the love of God and his neighbor; but
above all other sins, too great a measure of selfishness still remaineth in him. These words ' own, and mine, and self,' are too significant with him ; every thing of his own is regarded inordinately, with partiality, and too much sellishness. A word against himself, or an injury to himself, is more to him than worse against his brother: he is too little mindful of the glory of God, and of the public good, and the souls of others; and even when he is mindful of his own soul, he is too regardless of the souls of many, that by prayer, or exortation, or other means, he ought to help :' as a small candle lighteth but a little way, and a small fire heateth not far off, so is his love so much confined, that it reacbeth not far from him: he valueth his friends too much upon their respect to please himself, and loveth men too much, as they are partial for him; and too little
pure account of grace, and their love to Christ and serviceableness to the church. He easily overvalueth his own abilities, and is too confident of his own understanding, and apt to have too high conceits of any opinions that are his own; he is too apt to be tempted unto uncharitableness against those that cross him in his interest or way. He is apt to be too negligent in the work of God, when any self-interest doth stand against it; and too much to seek himself, his own esteem, or his own commodity, when he should devote himself to the good of souls, and give up himself to the work of God : though he is not like the hypocrite, that preferreth himself before the will of God and the common good, yet selfishness greatly stoppeth, interrupteth, and hindereth him in God's work; and any great danger, or loss, or shame, or other concernment of his own, doth seem a greater matter to him, and oftener turn him out of the way, than it will with a confirmed Christian. They were not all hypocrites that Paul speaketh of in that sad complaint, “For I have no man like-minded (10 Timothy) who will naturally care for your state; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's;" (Phil, ii. 20, 21.) that is, they too much seek their own, and not entirely enough the things that are Christ's : which Timothy did
naturally, as if he had been born to it; and grace had made the love of Christ, and the souls of men, and the good of others, as natural to him, as the love of himself. Alas! how loudly do their own distempers, and soul-miscarriages, and the divisions and calamities of the church, proclaim, that the weaker sort of Christians have yet too much selfishness, and that self-denial is lamentably imperfect in them.
3. But in the seeming Christian, selfishness is still the predominant principle; he loveth God but for himself; and he never had any higher end than self: all his religion, his opinions, his practice is animated by self-love, and governed by it, even by the love of carnal self. Self-esteem, self-conceitedness, self-love, self-willedness, self-seeking, and self-saving are the constitution of his heart and life. He will be of that opinion, and way and party in religion, which selfishness directeth him to choose. He will go no further in religion than self-interest and safety will allow him to go. He can change his friend, and turn his love into hatred, and his praises into reproach, whenever self-interest shall require it. He can make himself believe, and labor to make others believe, that the wisest and holiest servants of God are erroneous, humorous, hypocrites, and insufferable, if they do but stand cross to his opinions and interest: for he judgeth of them, and loveth or hateth them, principally as they conform to his will and interest, or as they are against it. As the godly measure all persons and things, by the will and interest of God, so do all ungodly men esteem them as they stand in reference to themselves. When their factious interest required it, the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, could make themselves and others believe, that the Son of God himself was a breaker of the law, and an enemy to Cæsar, and a blasphemer, and unworthy to live on the earth; and that Paul was a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among the people, and a ringleader of a sect, and a profaner of the temple ; (Acts xxiv. 5, 6.) and which of the prophets and apostles did they not persecute? Because Christ's doctrine doth cross the interest of selfish men, therefore the world doth so generally rise up against it with indignation, even as a country will rise against an invading enemy; for he cometh to take away that which is dearest to them : as it is said of Luther, that he meddled with the pope's crown, and the friars' bellies; and therefore no wonder if they swarmed all about his ears.
Selfishness is so general and deeply rooted, that, (except with a few self-denying saints,) self-love and self-interest rule the world. And if you would know how to please a graceless man, serve but his carnal interest, and you have done it: be of his opinion (or take on you to be so,) applaud him, admire him, flatter him, obey him, promote his preferment, honor and wealth, be against his enemies ; in a word, make him your God, and sell your soul to gain his favor, and so it is possible you may gain it.
XVI. 1. A Christian indeed hath so far mortified the flesh, and brought all his senses and appetites into subjection to sanctified reason, as that there is no great rebellion or perturbation in his mind: but a little matter, a holy thought, or a word from God, doth presently rebuke and quiet his inordinate desires. The flesh is as a well
. broken and well-ridden horse, that goeth on his journey obediently and quietly, and not with striving, and chafing, and vexatious resisting : though still flesh will be flesh, and will be weak, and will fight against the Spirit, so that we cannot do all the good we would; (Isa. v. 17. Rom. vii. 16, 17, &c.) yet in the confirmed Christian, it is so far tamed and subdued, that its rebellion is much less, and its resistance weaker, and more easily overcome: it causeth not any notable unevenness in his obedience, nor blemishes in his life; it is no other than consisteth with a readiness to obey the will of God. Gal. v. 24, 25. 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27. “ They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof: they run not as uncertainly ; they fight not as one that beateth the air ; but they keep under their bodies and bring them into subjection, lest by any means they should be castaways. They put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof;" Rom. xiii. 13, 14. As we see to a temperate man, how sweet and easy temperance is, when to a glutton, or drunkard, or riotous liver it is exceeding hard; so it is in all other points with a confirmed Christian. He hath so far crucified the flesh, that it is as dead to its former lusts; and so far mastered it, that it doth easily and quickly yield. And this maketh the life of such a Christian, not
only pure, but very easy to him, in comparison of other men's : nay, more than this, he can use his sense (as he can use the world, the objects of sense,) in subserviency to faith and his salvation. His eye doth but open a window to his mind, to behold and admire the Creator in bis work. His taste of the sweetness of the creatures is but a means, by which the sweeter love of God doth pass directly to his heart. His sense of pleasure is but the passage of spiritual, holy pleasure to his mind. His sense of bitterness and pain is but the inessenger to tell his heart of the bitterness and vexatiousness of sin. As God in the creation of us, made our senses but as the inlet and passage for himself into our minds, (even as he made all the creatures to represent him to us by this passage ;) so grace doth restore our very senses (with the creature) to this their holy, original use; that the goodness of God, through the goodness of the creature, may pass to our hearts, and be the effect and end of all.
2. But for the weak Christian, though he have mortified the deeds of the body by the Spirit, and liveth not after the flesh, but be freed from its captivity or reign; (Gal. v. 24. Rom. viii. 1. 7—13.) yet hath he such remnants of concupiscence and sensuality, as make it a far harder matter to him to live in temperance, and deny his appetite, and govern his senses, and restrain them from rebellion and excess : he is like a weak man upon an ill-ridden, headstrong horse, who hath much ado to keep his saddle and keep his way.
He is more strongly inclined to fleshly lusts, or excess in meat, or drink, or sleep, or sports, or some Reshly pleasure, than the mortified, temperate person is, and therefore is oftener guilty of some excess ; so that his life is a very tiresome conflict, and very uneasy to himself, because the less the flesh is mortified, the more able it is to raise perturbations, and to put faith and reason to a continual flight. And most of the scandals and blemishes of his life arise from hence, even the successes of the flesh against the Spirit; so that (though he live not in any gross or wilful sins;) yet in lesser measures of excess he is too frequently overtaken: how few be there that in meat and sleep do not usually exceed their measure? And they are easily tempted to libertine opinions, which indulge the flesh, having a weaker preservative against them than stronger Christians have ; Matt. xvi. 22, 23. Gal. v, 13. i. 16. ii. 12–14. Col. ii. 11.
3. But the seeming Christian is really carnal. The flesh is the predominant part with him; and the interest of the flesh is the ruling interest. He washeth away the outward filth, and in hope of salvation, will be as religious as the flesh will give him leave; and will
; deny it in some smaller matters, and will serve it in a religious way, and not in so gross and impudent a manner as the atheists and openly profane. But for all that he never conquered the flesh indeed; but seeketh its prosperity more than the pleasing of God and his salvation : and among prayers, and sermons, and holy conference,
, and books, yea, and formal fastings too, he is serving the flesh with so much the more dangerous impenitency, by how much the more his cloak of formality hindereth him from the discerning of his sin; many an one that is of unblemished reputation in religion, doth constantly serve his appetite in meat and drink, (though without any notable excess,) and his fleshly mind in the pleasure of his dwelling, wealth, and accommodations, as much as some profane ones do, if not much more.. And whenever it cometh to a parting trial, they will shew that the flesh was the ruling part, and will venture their souls to secure its interest; Luke xviii. 23. xiv. 33. Rom. viii. 5—7. 9. 13. Matt. xiii. 21, 22. Jude 19.
XVII. 1. Hence it followeth that a Christian indeed preferreth the means of his spiritual benefit and salvation incomparably before all corporal commodities and pleasures. He had rather dwell under the teaching and guidance of an able, experienced pastor, though it be cross to his prosperity and worldly gain, than to live under an ignorant or dead-hearted preacher, when it furthereth his trading or more accommodateth his flesh : (though yet he must not remove when God layeth any restraint upon him, by his duty to his family, or others :) he had rather, if he be a servant, dwell in a family where he may do or receive most spiritual good, than in a carnal family, where he may have more ease, and better fare, and greater wages. If he be to marry, he had rather have one that hath wisdom and piety without wealth, than one that hath riches without wisdom and piety. He is more glad of an opportunity (in public or private) for the profit of his soul, than of a feast, or a good bargain, or an opportunity for some gain in worldly things; Matt. vi. 20. 33.